From the Chinese press

Updated: 2013-11-08 08:18

(China Daily)

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Too big to be free

The news that in Russia medical services will continue to be provided free of charge has sparked a heated discussion in China about the possibility of realizing free medical care in China. However, China's huge population means the government and individuals should continue to share the costs of medical care, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

With the establishment of a social security net that covers the largest population in the world, Chinese people understandably have high expectations of the country's medical care, and universal access to basic medical care and health services has become a key objective in the ongoing medical reforms.

However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Even under the so-called free medical care system in Russia, people still have to pay for their medications, and due to insufficient public medical resources, the quality of services in a Russian hospital often ranges from uncomfortable to unacceptable.

As one of the most prosperous countries in the world, the United States spends about 18 percent of its GDP on healthcare, and the financial burden of medical care has already taken a toll on the country's economy, which is a concern shared by many other developed countries.

Free access to a resource like medical care will lead to a "tragedy of the commons", to borrow an term from economics, which refers to the depletion of a shared resource by individuals acting upon their self-interests. In the context of China, the lack of a well established medical supervision system would probably result in doctor-patient collusion and thus the overexploitation of medical resources, if free medical care were to become a reality.

As a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, China has a wide gap in the welfare provided in rural and urban areas, so the priority should be to put in place basic medical and healthcare systems that cover both urban and rural residents.

Celebrities should behave

China's Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang was detained by police after he was discovered driving without a license earlier this month in Hangzhou. It is a shame that as a public figure, Sun has failed to set a good example, says an article on Excerpts:

Sun Yang is not the first public figure to have violated traffic rules in recent years. The musician Gao Xiaosong was jailed for six months and fined 4,000 yuan ($656) for dangerous and drunken driving in 2011. And earlier this year, singer Han Hong apologized for illegally using a car license plate after she was stopped and fined by traffic police in Beijing.

Celebrities benefit enormously from their social influence and correspondingly they should shoulder their social responsibilities. This is because, thanks to their reputations and influence, their behavior in public, be it good or bad, will have an effect on society.

Although no one is in the position to request that a public figure be flawless, public figures should at least behave in public in a responsible way and spread positive energy using their social influence. After all, with great influence comes great responsibilities.

In the case of Sun Yang, Chinese media have reported that this is not the first time he has driven without a license. Now that he has been caught and punished, he should reflect on his behavior and social responsibilities. Soon after the incident, the swimming prodigy issued an apology on his micro blog. Let's hope that he has learned his lesson and behaves in a more mature way in the future.

(China Daily 11/08/2013 page9)